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Hydrotherapy simply means ‘therapy in water’. It is one of the oldest forms of rehabilitation and is now becoming increasingly popular for the rehabilitation and care of dogs.

What is hydrotherapy?

There are many benefits to be had from underwater treadmill therapy. It is a very tailored form of therapy as the water depth, speed and level of assistance are specific to each dog and type of injury being treated. 


  • Ease of movement of painful or healing structures

  • Improved weight bearing

  • Gait- re-education following spinal or neurological injury or disease

  • Prevention of muscle atrophy

  • Accelerated muscle strengthening

  • Faster return to previous function following injury or surgery

  • Improved joint range of motion

  • Balance re-training

  • Maintaining and prolonging mobility in senior pets

  • Conditioning for sport and show ring

  • Weight loss

Here's how it works:

  • Buoyancy

    • Supports the dog's weight, reducing weight-bearing by 40-60%​, so dogs are more able to use injured limbs

  • Viscosity

    • Slower movements in the water help support dogs with poor balance and can help improve balance.​

  • Temperature

    • A comfortable 32 degrees helps the muscles to relax, facilitating an incease in range of movement and flexibility, making movements much easier.

  • Adjustable

    • The water level can be adjusted to take as much weight off as needed​

    • The speed can be adjusted to best suit each condition and the size of each dog being treated.

Did you know?

Rehabilitation should begin BEFORE surgery!

For cranial cruicate ligament (CCL) injuries, muscle atrophy in the injured limb is one of the most common issues experienced. However, this leads to muscle hypertrophy in the supporting limb. This could cause a loss of range of motion, and alters the actions/movements of the hips, stifle and hock joints, causing compensational issues and an altered posture. 

To avoid these muscle imbalances and compensational issues, pre-operative hydrotherapy is a must. And on top of that, they will transition much more easily into rehab post surgery. 

Hydrotherapy will help prevent muscle atrophy and keep the body and joints working as they should. It helps ease the burden of recovery and building muscle on the dog.

Who can benefit from hydrotherapy?

Orthopedic Conditions

  • Cruciate surgery or injury

  • Medial patella luxation surgery or conservative management

  • Elbow dysplasia- conservative management, post-surgical management, arthritis management

  • Hip dysplasia- conservative management, post-surgical management, arthritis management

  • Shoulder instability

  • Fracture repair

  • Arthritis

  • Spondylosis

  • Polyarthritis

  • Limb amputation

  • Ligament repair

  • Arthrodesis

  • Senior pets with weakness, poor mobility

Neurological Conditions

  • IVDD- surgical or conservative management

  • FCE

  • Degenerative myelopathy

  • Polyradiculoneuritis

  • Polyneuropathy

  • Wobblers

  • Degenerative neurological conditions

  • Brachial plexus injury

This is Luna
She suffers from luxating patellas, hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis, and is managing conservatively with hydrotherapy.

How will my pet feel after hydrotherapy?

Owners will often report:

  • Initially:

    • Fatigued in areas of muscle weakness

    • Tired after the session, sometimes sleep the rest of the day

    • Less restless through the night

  • Over time:

    • Quicker return to normal function (Also age-dependant)​

    • Able to walk longer distances before tiring

    • Increase in overall energy

    • Start doing things they used to do - jumping on bed/couch, running around, feeling playful (Of course these behaviours often lead to further injury so we have to be very careful)

    • Increase weight bearing on the injured limb

    • Postural shift overall - more relaxed

    • Muscles feeling stronger, and evening out

When can't a dog go to hydrotherapy?

  • Open wounds

  • Infections/conditions that could be contagious, such as gastric upset, ear/eye/skin infections, kennel couch, etc.

  • Bitches in season

  • Heart disease

  • Cardiac diseases

  • This is why we always make sure we have a vet's approval before treating any dog

Book an Appointment

Interested in hydrotherapy?

Book now or get in contact to see how hydrotherapy could benefit your dog.

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